On 30th January 2020, the WHO Director General has declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019- nCoV as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), based on the advice of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005).1 Following that determination, WHO did not recommend any travel or trade restrictions, based on the current information available.
Evidence on travel measures that significantly interfere with international traffic for more than 24 hours shows that such measures may have a public health rationale at the beginning of the containment phase of an outbreak, as they may allow affected countries to implement sustained response measures, and non-affected countries to gain time to initiate and implement effective preparedness measures. Such restrictions, however, need to be short in duration, proportionate to the public health risks, and be reconsidered regularly as the situation evolves.
Countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection, and to share full data with WHO. In accordance with their obligations under the Article 43 of the International Health Regulations (2005), States Parties must inform WHO about additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic.
For countries that have decided to repatriate their nationals from Wuhan City, Hubei province, the following key considerations need to be made, in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of those involved in the repatriation. In addition, measures aimed at bolstering national preparedness capacities to prevent the further spread or importation of 2019-nCoV before, during, and after repatriation need to be considered.